F1: 2005 contender… get to know…
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen (9), Juan Pablo Montoya (10)
The Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 Formula One car took to the track for the first time on the 24th of January at the Circuit de Catalunya, outside Barcelona, Spain, where regular driver Kimi Raikkonen took to the wheel.
The debut of the team’s 2005 challenger showed a design that had been heavily influenced by significant revisions to both the sporting and technical regulations that govern Formula One in four key areas: engine lifespan, limitations on tyre use, aerodynamics and race weekend format particularly for qualifying.
The aerodynamic modifications led to the most visible differences on the car, to the design of the chassis, which was exclusively developed in the design office and wind tunnel facilities at the McLaren Technology Centre. These include the raising of the front wing by 50mm, restricting the height of the diffuser to 125mm and bringing the rear wing package forward by 150mm.
“Since MP4-20 was fired up for the first time at 02:30am on the morning of Thursday 20th January at the McLaren Technology Centre, the anticipatory atmosphere of the car’s initial run within the team has been building and we are pleased to have completed its shakedown this morning,” said Ron Dennis, Team Principal, West McLaren Mercedes. “Today’s unveiling is the first tangible demonstration of the team’s preparations for the 2005 season, a year that has the potential to be exciting and positive for all the teams, our Partners and the fans alike. There is feverish work taking place across the team to achieve the best possible result for the this year”
The design of the MP4-20 has been heavily influenced by significant revisions to both the sporting and technical regulations that govern Formula One in four key areas: engine lifespan, limitations on tyre use, aerodynamics and race weekend format particularly for qualifying.
“A Formula One car is a fully integrated machine,” commented Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes. “As a consequence, regulation changes to the extent we have seen ahead of the 2005 season, have had a major impact on the configuration of the entire package.
The revisions created an interesting challenge for our design team under Adrian Newey, Mike Coughlan and Neil Oatley, and the result is a car that looks quite different from last year. Mercedes-Ilmor on the engine side has to cope with similar technical and timescale challenges.”
“With the regulations, particularly on the aerodynamic side, being set comparatively late resulting in even harder and more dedicated work from all members of the team to get MP4-20 on track today. This has seen positive collaboration with all our Technology Partners, particularly Michelin in adapting to the extended use requirements of tyres for the coming season, when they have to last the entire race distance,” McLaren Racing’s Technical Director Adrian Newey said. “The spec for MP4-20 was set in May 2004 and this saw the start of wind tunnel work at the McLaren Technology Centre. The timescales have been challenging but that is all part of the excitement of Formula One.”
Chassis: McLaren moulded carbon fibre/aluminium honeycomb composite incorporating front and side impact structures. Contains integral safety fuel cell
McLaren International Ltd
Based in: Woking, Surrey
Founded: 1963 (active since 1966)
Managing director: Ron Dennis
Technical Director: Adrian Newey
Chief Designer of engines: Mario Illien
Director of Engineering: Neil Oatley
Chief Designer of chassis: Mike Coughlan
Towards the end of the 1980’s McLaren had the world at their feet. Securing the services of both Senna and Prost for 1988, Ron Dennis and his Woking operation took all that was placed before them , winning 15 of the 16 races that year. However what goes around comes around and having lost its all powerful Honda engines and Ayrton Senna the teams was forced to retreat and regroup for a while. Signs at the end of the 1997 suggest that the boys may be back in town.. to stay.
Formed initially for Tasman racing, the team built its first sports cars in 1964 and 1965 before Bruce McLaren, inspired by the efforts of Jack Brabham, left Cooper in order to tackle F1 on his own. His first effort was the M2B, penned by Robin Herd and built in 1966. Unfortunately, it was the first year of the 3.0 litre era and reliable engines were difficult to come by. Bruce had to opt for an underpowered Serenissima unit, although McLaren did manage to sneak into the points at the British Grand Prix. Herd’s next effort was the M7, which he designed before leaving for Cosworth. Fitted with the new DFV engine the beast proved a worthy contender in both F1 and Cam-Am circles. It was while testing the latest Can-Am car that Bruce was killed in a crash at Goodwood in 1970. With the help of Denny Hulme the team struggled on and established itself at the top during the mid 1970s clinching the constructor’s title in 1974 with Emerson Fittipaldi also bagging the driver’s title.
That was the highpoint and a steady decline, interrupted by Hunt’s 1976 title, left the team floundering as the decade came to a close and sponsors Marlboro instigated a merger with Ron Dennis’s Project Four F2 operation. Teddy Mayer left soon after, whilst with the help of John Barnard’s revolutionary carbon- fibre monocoque, McLaren took consecutive world titles in 1984, ’85 and ’86.
Then came the era of Senna, Prost and Honda. Three more titles went into the trophy cabinet despite the constant infighting between the drivers. Honda withdrew from the sport in 1992, Prost went to Williams and then at the end of 1993 Senna left the team. Young Finnish charger Mika Hakkinen was recruited to fill the gap but despite his quick and spectacular driving style he simply did not have the experience or racecraft to keep the silverware cupboard stocked. A disappointing Peugeot engine did not help matters so when Mercedes approached with a works engine deal Ron Dennis snatched it with both hands. Since 1995 the Woking-Stuttgart partnership has grown in stature and competence, and the Mercedes engine was probably the best part of the car for most of 1997. Hakkinen and Coulthard continued to perfect their art with a brace of wins and a few near misses suggested that they really do have the ability to win races. All that is missing is a chassis capable of matching the best Williams can offer. Enter Adrian Newey, former Williams aerodynamicist and a man who can get downforces out of a packet of peanuts.
Newey’s first McLaren was the MP4/13, coupled to a lighter more powerful engine. In addition the team took the brave decision to leave Goodyear one year early and joined forces with Bridgestone. The gambles paid off and 1998 will go down as one of the best season’s for the McLaren team. They may not have achieved the dizzy heights of 1988 but Hakkinen was crowned World Champion at Suzuka and the team wrapped up another Constructors’ championship. The signs were all there in Melbourne were the boys lapped the entire field before the half-way stage. A handful of mechanical breakdowns mid-season meant that by Austria the championship battle was heating up, as Ferrari and Michael Schumacher won three races on the trot. McLaren always had the better chassis, and Mika Hakkinen made few mistakes, but the car was unreliable in comparison with the Ferrari. Following the Italian Grand Prix, Mika Hakkinen and Schumacher’s Ferrari were tied on 80 points each. The championship was won at the final race as a blown tyre put Ferrari out of contention. For 1999, it is a case of more of the same. McLaren are back to their winning ways.
Active: 2005 – 2005
Team: B.A.R Honda F1
Designer: Geoff Willis
Drivers: Jenson Button (3), Takuma Sato (4)
Much was expected from the 2005 B·A·R Honda 007 car. Its predecessor, after all, scored 11 podium place finishes in 2004, taking B·A·R Honda to second place among the F1 constructors and Jenson Button to third place in the coveted drivers’ championship.
The BAR 007 features revised aerodynamics as well as significant engineering advances. These developments have been introduced not only to meet the latest technical regulations as laid down by the sport’s governing body but also to increase B·A·R Honda’s competitiveness among the F1 elite.
The 007 was however not capable of equalling the performance of the BAR 006, as it had to deal with several reliability problems during the first half of the season. Even worse, after a routine check of the car’s weight after Imola, the team was banned for 3 GP’s as it was found underweight. The problem appeared to be the fuel tank which was basically designed to use fuel as ballast. The second half of the season was however better as Button was able to score a streak of point finishes.
Construction: Moulded carbon fibre and honeycomb composite structure that surpasses latest FIA impact and strength regulations
Front suspension: Wishbone & pushrod-activated torsion springs and rockers, mechanical anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Wishbone & pushrod-activated torsion springs and rockers, mechanical anti-roll bar
Wheels: BBS forged magnesium (front: 312mm wide, rear: 340mm wide)
Brakes: Alcon (2 x 6-piston calipers in front and back)
Brake discs/pads: Carbon/Carbon
Steering: B.A.R power assisted Rack & Pinion
Steering wheel: B.A.R carbon fibre construction
Driver’s seat: Anatomically formed carbon composite
Seat belts: Six-point harness (75mm shoulder straps with HANS system)
Fuel cell: ATL kevlar-reinforced rubber bladder
Fuel capacity: 150 litre
Battery: 3Ah Lead Acid
Instrumentation: B.A.R steering wheel dash display
Gearbox: B.A.R maincase: 7-speed unit, Honda & XTrac internals
Gear selection: Sequential, semi-automatic, hydraulic activation
Clutch: Carbon plate
Front track: 1460mm
Rear track: 1420mm
Wheel base: 3140mm
Overall length: 4675mm
Overall height: 950mm
Overall width: 1800mm
Engine type: Honda RA005E 90° V10, naturally aspirated
Maximum power: Over 900bhp
Maximum revs: Over 18,500 rpm
Valve train: 4 valves per cylinder; pneumatic valve system
Injection system: Honda PGM-FI
Throttle system: Electronic hydraulically-operated system
Ignition system: Honda PGM-IG
Based in: Long Reach, Ockham, Woking, Surrey GU23 6PE, UK
Founded: 1998 (active since 1999)
Chief executive officer: Craig Pollock (1998-2002), David Richards (2002-2004), Nick Fry (2005-…)
Technical Director: Adrian Reynard (1998-2002), Geoff Willis (2003-…)
Sporting Director: Gil De Ferran (2005-…)
Chief Designer: Malcolm Oastler (1998-2002)
Chief Race Engineer: Craig Wilson (2004)
Managing Director: Nick Fry (2002-2004)
Much was expected of the new British American Racing team in their 1999 debut season. With financial backing from the multi-national conglomerate British American Tobacco running to £250 million over a five year programme.
The new organisation is headed by Jacques Villeneuve’s former school-teacher and manager Craig Pollock who negotiated the purchase of the Tyrrell team in late 1997. The new team then announced that they would be using the Mecachrome V10 engine (renamed the Supertec V10) for the 1999 season. Perhaps unsurprisingly 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has joined rookie Ricardo Zonta to head up the driving front, while the team have taken the unusual step of outsourcing their chassis construction to Reynard. The British manufacturer has won debut races in every single seater category that it has entered until it arrived in F1. The last truely positive comment on the car was from chief designer, Malcolm Oastler who claimed to be delighted with his creation at the launch of the new team in January of 1999. As soon as the car came on track it became clear it wasn’t able to fulfill the expectations. The BAR 001’s performance was close to the sub-top with several good qualifyings but reliability was worse than any other team in F1. In the years after that, the team never had the form to compete with the top teams.
As the team’s main shareholder BAT was disappointed with the performance and as new engine supplier Honda also wanted to improve Craig Pollock was moved aside to have David Richards (who was active in motor sports with ProDrive and former manager of Benetton) lead the team. The 2000 season started well in Australia with both cars finishing in the points, but it was the second half of the calendar before more points were scored as once again reliability became a problem. At the end of the year Olivier Panis was signed to partner Jacques Villeneuve for 2001 but once again the team was unable to string together the reliability needed to consistently pick up points.
After securing exclusive use of the Honda engine for 2003, Richards signed Williams’ technical director Geoff Willis to design the new BAR. He also packed off veteran Panis to Toyota when given the chance to sign Jenson Button to a long-term contract, while also stating that the team could no longer afford to pay such a high salary to Villeneuve (at the time the second highest paid driver in F1). Negotiations with Villeneuve dragged on through the season but without resolution and the team announced before the end of the season that test driver (and Honda protégé) Takuma Sato would partner Button in 2004. Villeneuve then pulled out of the season ending Japanese GP saying he did not have the motivation to drive, leaving Sato to make an early debut. At the end of 2004, the team also received an award that year for their revolutionary carbon cased gearbox which greatly helped their 2004 successes.
However after the good results, Honda wanted more and took a partial stake in the team to have more influence in the design of the complete car. As the Japanese firm wanted a team chief solely devoted to F1, Dave Richards was moved aside in favour of Nick Fry. 2005 saw a hard start for the team as reliabilty problems chased the car, but Jenson Button was able to score a long series of points during the second half of the season.
For 2006, the team heads to the championship with Jenson Button who bought out of his Williams contract for a reported 18m pounds. The talented Brit is be joined by former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.
Active: 2005 – 2005
Team: Scuderia Ferrari SpA
Designer: Aldo Costa
Drivers: Michael Schumacher (1), Rubens Barrichello (2)
The F2005 is the fifty first single-seater built by Ferrari specifically to compete in the Formula 1 World Championship. The design, which bears the internal code number 656, represents Ferrari’s more exhaustive interpretation of the 2005 technical regulations. The main elements, relating to aerodynamics are more advanced than on the F2004 M.
The chassis is lighter, despite the need to strengthen the lateral anti-intrusion panels within the monocoque to increase its ability to meet the requirements of the crash-test, which is stricter than in the past. The shape has been revised, with modifications to the opening of the side pods and the area around the turning vanes. The side pods have been adapted to accommodate the new cooling system.
The engine cover has been redesigned, as have the aerodynamic devices on the side pods, with a secondary winglet introduced in the area of the roll-hoop. The layout of the exhausts is fundamentally different to that of the previous car, eliminating the aerodynamic profile which characterised the rear section, which is now almost entirely integrated within the bodywork.
While retaining the longitudinal architecture for the transmission, the entire rear end has been changed in an attempt to get the most out of the size of the gearbox, which is smaller than its predecessor and made from titanium and carbon fibre. Naturally, the limitations introduced by the new regulations were taken into account during the design stage.
The rear suspension has been revised, with the twin aims of improving the car’s dynamics in order to optimise the efficiency of operation for the Bridgestone tyres, while also improving the aerodynamic efficiency of the rear. The floor of the car has also been substantially redesigned to fit in with the new dimensions of the gearbox and comply with the new regulations. Two areas that benefited from a major effort during the design stage were the braking and electronics systems, this work carried out in conjunction with technical partners.
The 055 engine is load-bearing and mounted longitudinally. Much of the internal componentry derives from the last version of the 053, currently fitted to the F2004 M. The main changes centre on the mounting points to chassis and gearbox. Its designers aimed to come up with an engine able to maintain a sufficient level of performance, doubling its life given that the sporting regulations introduced this year require the use of the same engine for two consecutive race weekends. As always, Shell’s help has been invaluable in the definition of fuel and lubricants to best meet the set targets.
The F2005 represents the final evolution in a line of Ferrari Formula 1 cars fitted with a ten cylinder engine. As usual, right from the design stage, much attention was paid to performance and optimisation of the materials used as well as quality control, in order to increase performance levels with maximum safety, all within the framework of the new rules introduced this year.
Chassis: Carbon-fibre and honeycomb composite structure
Gearbox: Semi-automatic sequential electronically controlled gearbox 7 gears + reverse
Brakes: Ventilated carbon-fibre disc brakes
Suspension: Independent suspension, push-rod activated torsion springs front and rear
Length: 4545 mm
Width: 1796 mm
Height: 959 mm
Wheelbase: 3050 mm
Front track: 1470 mm
Rear track: 1405 mm
Weight: with water, lubricant and driver 605 kg
Wheels: (front and rear) 13”
Engine: Type 055
Cylinders: 90° V10
Cilinder block: Cast aluminium
Valves: 40 (4 per cylinder), pneumatically distributed
Total displacement: 2997 cm3
Injection: Magneti Marelli digital electronic injection
Ignition: Magneti Marelli static electronic ignition
Scuderia Ferrari SpA
Based in: Maranello, Italy
Founded: 1946 (active since 1950)
Chairman: Luca Di Montezemolo
Managing director: Jean Todt
Technical director: Ross Brawn
Chief designer: Rory Byrne
Team manager:Stefano Domenicali
The most evocative name in Grand Prix, and the only team to have contested every year of the championship, always in their traditional red livery.
For several yeas now Ferrari have been losing the race when it comes to keeping apace with the technological advances being made within Formula 1, however with the arrival of Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and of course Michael Schumacher, the Prancing Horse now seems to have got its act together once more and for the first time in many years the team looks like it could actually live up to its glorious past.
The team was founded by Enzo Ferrari, a former racer and manager of Alfa Romeo’s racing team from 1930-37 but a disagreement saw him leave in 1938. Although he built his first car in 1940, this wasn’t known as a Ferrari, as Enzo had agreed not to race under his own name for a further five years, so the first true Ferrari didn’t appear until 1946. Early models were known by the displacement size of each cylinder and it is fair to say that Ferrari’s priority lay with engine first and chassis second.
Over the years a total of eight drivers titles have made their way to Maranello but the last was in 1979. Between then and the arrival of Luca di Montezemolo in 1992 Ferrari were in a real mess. The route from that sorry state to a team that could challenge for the 1997 title has rarely been an easy one, but among the changes that have worked three factors stand out. Firstly the team hired Jean Todt as team manager. Todt was known as ‘the man that could’ over at Peugeot where he ran their racing team. He joined Ferrari in 1993 bringing with him a formidable reputation for organisational efficiency.
Next the engine department was persuaded to move away from traditional thirsty V12s to the more efficient and lighter V10 engine. The final piece in the puzzle was the hiring, with a reputed fee of $25 million, of twice world champion Michael Schumacher. Schumacher brought more than just driving ability. He joined the team with his own ideas and his own agenda. His aim was to mould the team around him with one aim in mind; to return the Scuderia to the top of the Formula 1 tree. To that end he arranged for Brawn and Byrne to join him from Benetton and these three, guided tactically by Todt, with Montezemolo controlling the strategic flow, lie at the core of a team that can once more reach for the top.
1998 began with Ferrari announcing that this was their year. Schumacher remained with the team with Eddie Irvine as team-mate for the third year running. The all new Ross Brawn designed F300 was great – for a Ferrari – but it wasn’t a patch on the McLaren and once more the Prancing Horse was left struggling, although they did get very close.
The season started badly for the team, with Schumacher retiring his Ferrari early on in the Australian Grand Prix. Mika Hakkinen went on to win the controversial race. The championship was lost for Ferrari in the early races, but Michael Schumacher proved that he is the best driver in the pitlane, with superb drives and wins in Argentina, Canada, France, Hungary and Italy, where Ferrari recorded a 1-2 result on home soil. The championship’s both went to McLaren Mercedes, but Ferrari will be in a strong position next season and will be once again be aiming for their first drivers’ title since 1979.
Active: 2005 – 2005
Team: Renault F1
The philosophy behind this car was very much one of evolution. Its predecessor, the R24 and R24B had a compromised mechanical architecture by the late change of engine angle. Renault decided at that time that a 72° angle would be a better solution then 90°. The new RS25 engine is once more a 72° design but has a lower centre of gravity, and a much stiffer installation than with the R24. Thefocus has been on optimising each detail to improve stiffness, reduce weight and package the components very tightly to give the aerodynamicists as much freedom as possible.
2005 was also the year of new aerodynamic rules to reduce downforce. RenaultF1 allocated wind tunnel resources as soon as the regulation changes were announced last July. That decision was a risk, and cost performance at the end of 2004 where the R24 could not get on the podium in the last races. The team made big step forward from its initial downforce loss of approximately 25%.
The car’s major innovation is an all-new electronic system integrating the engine and chassis controllers, named Step 11. It is physically lighter, representing a quarter of the total weight saving in the new car, and brings a concrete advantage in terms of the scope of development: it allows a four times’ greater processing power, and ten times’ more data acquisition capacity, all of which will contribute to improvements in the control systems.
The other new feature of the car is the ‘v keel’ front suspension.
Technical director Bob Bell: “In recent years, we have seen two schools of thought evolve in front suspension design: the traditional single keel, with a single front lower wishbone, and the twin keel, which brings a measurable aerodynamic gain but can also have a structural penalty outweighing the benefit. We believe the v-keel is a very elegant solution to this dilemma, as it combines the virtues of both systems: we have obtained an aerodynamic advantage for minimal structural penalty, while maintaining our preferred mechanical configuration for the front suspension.”
Chassis: Moulded carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb composite monocoque, manufactured by the Renault F1 Team and designed for maximum strength and stiffness with minimum weight. Engine installed as a fully-stressed member.
Front suspension: Carbon fibre top and bottom wishbones operate an inboard titanium rocker via a pushrod system. This is connected to a torsion bar and damper units which are mounted at the front of the monocoque.
Rear suspension: Carbon fibre top and bottom wishbones operating vertically-mounted torsion bars and horizontally-mounted damper units mounted on the top of the gearbox casing. Bottom wishbone attached by ‘v’ keel mounting.
Transmission: Six-speed semi-automatic gearbox with one reverse gear.
Fuel system: Kevlar-reinforced rubber fuel cell provides reduced risk of fire and is mounted behind cockpit in chassis monocoque.
Cooling system: Separate oil and water radiators located in the car’s sidepods and cooled using airflow from the car’s forward motion.
Electrical: Integrated chassis/engine electronics and software co- developed by Renault F1 Team and Magneti Marelli.
Braking system: Carbon discs and pads (Hitco); calipers by AP Racing.
Cockpit: Removable driver’s seat made of anatomically formed carbon composite, with six-point harness seat belt. Steering wheel integrates gear change and clutch paddles.
Car dimensions and weight:
Front track: 1,450mm
Rear track: 1,400mm
Wheel base: 3,100mm
Overall length: 4,800mm
Overall height: 950mm
Overall width: 1,800mm
Overall weight: 605kg including driver, camera and ballast
RS25 engine: 72° ‘V’ angle with optimum integration in the new R25 chassis. Atmospheric 3-litre V10 engine
The car is known for its elaborative implementation of the ‘shark gills’ which were previously used by Ferrari on a smaller scale. Although being usually slower than the McLaren MP4-20 in the second half of the season, Renault took the advantage in the first half of the season where they won the first 6 grand prix.
Based in: Viry-Chatillon
Founded: 1898 (active 1977-1985, 2001-…)
Team President: Bernard Dudot (1998-2003), Patrick Faure (2004-…)
Managing Director: Flavio Briatore (1998-…)
Technical Director: Andre de Cortanze (1977-1978), Michel Tetu (1979-1984), Bernard Touret (1985), Mike Gascoyne (2001-2003), Bob Bell (2004-…)
Engineering Director: Pat Symonds (1998-…)
Technical Director Engine: Rob White (2004-…)
Renault began manufacturing racing cars back in 1899 and went on to win the first Grand Prix in 1906. After establishing itself as France’s leading motor manufacturer a sporting division was created for sports car racing with the Alpine-Renault.
Many observers were surprised by Renault’s decision to enter the Formula arena because of the risks involved in failure. Their choice of engine was also surprising. At the time of Renault’s arrival on the scene the sport was run under the 3-litre formula. However an alternative of a 1.5 litre supercharged engine had never been removed from the rulebook and this was the option Renault took, based on their experiences with turbos from their sports car operation.
The first car, the Renault RS01, arrived for the 1977 British Grand Prix with Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the wheel. Success was limited mainly due the fact that much of the vast resources of Renault-Sport were devoted to winning the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Once that aim had been achieved, in 1978, attention switched to the Formula 1 project.
In 1979 the team fielded the Renault RS10 ground effect car at Monte Carlo and Jabouille scored an emotive first win at the French Grand Prix in Dijon, although the race is best remembered for the last lap battle between Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari and the second Renault, driven by Rene Arnoux. The turbo engines proved dominant at the high altitude circuits where normally-aspirated cars struggled for breath. Arnoux won in South Africa and Brazil and that alerted the competition that all their futures would be turbocharged.
For 1981 Renault signed Alain Prost and he nearly clinched the title in his first season with the team. By 1982 the team was losing its advantage in turbo technology as BMW and Ferrari were closing the gap. Ferrari looked certain to take the title until Villeneuve was killed and Pironi seriously injured. Keke Rosberg eventually won the title for Williams despite one securing a single win all season. For 1983 Prost led the charge again and many expected the title to go to Renault. He was again pipped to the post after going out early from the South African race. Piquet took the title for Brabham. Prost blamed the team for falling behind on development and was given his marching orders. He moved to McLaren where, ironically, he was to enjoy the best years of his career.
1984 saw only limited success for Renault as all of the competition had finally cracked the art of turbo-driving. The team lasted for just one more year before withdrawing the works team to concentrate on supplying engines to Williams with whom they won five constructor’s titles and four driver championships. 1998 sees the Renault name missing from the Formula 1 programme with subsidary Mechachrome providing the engines for Williams and Benetton (under the oddly named Playlife badge).
In 2001 full works support returned for the Benetton outfit, in advance of a complete rebranding for 2002. Renault then had its own Formula 1 team for the first time in seventeen years and, with several fourth places scored throughout the season, its potential was obvious. With the attraction of team manager Flavio Briatore who had won 2 championships with Benetton in 1994 and 1995, the team was ready for a new challenge. In 2002 the team also added Spanish driver Alonso to the list a promising people.
Where they were still fighting with backmarkers Minardi in 2001, the team steadily progressed during the following years. The team entered 2002 with Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli as regular drivers, while Alonso did the testing. Renault F1 also posessed the only 111° V10 engine of the field. The power plant proved revolutionary, yet problems with vibrations and stiffness caused it to be less reliable and powerful than normal 72° and 90° V10’s.
The team continued on their progress in 2003 with again an evolution of the previous car. Mike Gascoyne has led the team that once again improved the performance of Renault while Alonso pairing up with Trulli proved to be a successful driver duo. Alonso became the youngest driver ever to win a Formula One pole position at the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix; he also became the youngest driver ever to win a Formula One race at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix. At season’s end, he was a solid sixth in the championship, with 55 points and four podiums while Trulli grabbed 33 points and one podium.
2004 saw the abandon of the 111° engine concept as the team designed a 72° V10. Immediately showing better power than the predecessor it allowed Jarno Trulli to take his first career win at Monaco 2004. The Italian however later fell in disgrace of Briatore because of several errors and letting go a podium place in the last last in Magny-Cours. He was replaced by Jacques Villeneuve for the last 3 races of that year. The 1997 champion could not prevent Renault to lose 2nd place in the constructor’s championship.
As Renault had given up early on the development of their Renault R24, the team was completely ready for 2005. The engine had become on of the best of the field, Alonso more mature and Fisichella joined the team as his teammate. Mike Gascoyne however went to Toyota and Bob Bell was assigned the new technical director. With Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella driving for the team in 2005, the season started very well for Renault, as Fisichella won the Australian Grand Prix. Alonso then won five grands prix to catapult himself and the team into the lead of their respective World Championships.